Gearing Up

Every basic tool that you really need

Most of what I use every day in my kitchen fits into a single drawer. Elsewhere, I keep four pans along with a couple of baking receptacles and a few other odds and ends.

Each item is on the list that follows. They’re all you really need.

I have much to say about the hype and nonsense surrounding kitchen gear in general, and I’ll be posting recommendations soon on specific makes and models. This is a new website with updates appearing by the week. (Sign up to my newsletter and get each one delivered straight to your inbox.)

Suffice it to say for now that basic utensils like mixing spoons, spatulas and whisks can be inexpensive and generic. They need only fulfill their functions without drawing attention to themselves. Perfectly good ones can be found at restaurant supply outlets.

Pans and sieves, on the other hand, actually require what you could call craftsmanship, the kind of thing that you see in upscale kitchen stores.

Electrical appliances I require for special circumstances only. I own a twelve-hundred-watt blender, for example, that I seem to use only for puréeing soups.

I have other tools like this that I can’t entirely justify owning. My expensive mandolin slicer can transform a turnip into a delicate pile of paper-thin wafers. They make a lovely salad. But is this really just a novelty? I continue to investigate.

    All the Tools You Really Need

  1. Bowls, Cups & Spoons

Measuring utensils

A set of measuring cups
A set of measuring spoons

Mixing bowls

Two of a 15 in. diameter/8 qt. capacity (38 cm/8 L)
Four of about half that size
Four of about half that size again
Eight pint-sized (500 ml)


One 1 pt. (500 ml), heat-proof (e.g., Pyrex)
One 1 qt. (1 L), heat-proof
  1. Containers

Several dishwasher-safe containers of various shapes and sizes

Several 2 qt. (2 L)
Several pint-sized (500 ml)


One bottle-nose
One wide-mouth
  1. Colanders & Sieves

A colander, about 6 × 8 in. (15 × 22 cm)
A tamis (drum sieve), 12 in. (30 cm) diameter, medium-fine mesh
Three ordinary sieves of 7 in. (18 cm) diameter, medium-fine mesh

  1. Cutlery

A box-grater with surfaces in course, medium and fine
Cutting boards

Two that are dishwasher-safe
One countertop, at least 18 x 18 in. (50 x 50 cm) in size

A honing rod, ceramic

One or two disposable
One serrated (bread knife)

A peeler for vegetables
Scissors (kitchen shears)
A zester for citrus rinds and nutmeg pods

  1. Gadgets

A can opener
A garlic press
A pepper mill
A salad spinner
A waiter’s knife (a kind of pocket knife that opens any bottle)

  1. Instruments

A Kitchen scale

One for your fridge
One for your oven
One instant-read (meat-probing)
  1. Linens

Dish towels

  1. Pans & Baking Receptacles

A baking sheet that equals the width and length of your oven’s interior
Baking dishes

One 9 × 13 in. size, or of a 2 qt. capacity (about 750 cm2/2 L)
One 8 × 8 in. size, or of a 1 qt. capacity (about 410 cm2/ 1 L)

A heat diffuser

This device is unnecessary with induction stoves.


One 2 qt. (2 L) sauce pan
One 4 qt. (4 L) sauce pan
One 8 qt. (8 L) Dutch oven
One 10 in. (25 cm) diameter skillet
  1. Utensils

A citrus juicer
An ice cream scoop

One 4 oz. (12 cl)
One 2 oz. (6 cl)

A meat pounder
A pastry brush of heat-proof silicon
One spatula, 15 in. (40 cm) long, of heat-proof silicon

Two metal, 12 in. (30 cm) long
One metal slotted, same size
Two olive wood for cooking

Tongs, spring-loaded

Two 10 in. (25 cm)
Two 16 in. (40 cm)

One turner, metal (pancake flipper)

One balloon, 12 in. (30 cm), 7 wires
One French, 12 in. (30 cm), 24 wires
One batter, 14 in. (36 cm), 16 wires

Guided by Whim, Not Recipe
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